The life of a cattle thief

2008-04-29 00:00

While driving through the Umzimkulu valley on my way towards Kokstad on a clear autumn morning, I suddenly realised that I was driving through the famous opening paragraph of Alan Paton’s Cry, the Beloved Country, through what he calls “one of the fairest valleys of Africa”. He describes the view in biblical cadences: “Below you is the valley of the Umzimkulu, on its journey from the Drakensberg to the sea; and beyond and behind the river, great hill after great hill; and beyond and behind them, the mountains of Ingeli and East Griqualand.”

“His homestead consisted of four round thatched huts with a large cattle fold. The kraal is surrounded and almost hidden by mimosa trees. On the rocky heights above, stately aloes grow. From the vantage point of the koppie’s crest, Ntsukumbini could observe the country for many miles about and keep a watch on the approach of inquisitive people who might wish to interfere with his business. It was here in his declining years that he related to me the experiences related in the following pages.”

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